Lessons From Hurricane Floyd

Predicting the Flood Before the Storm

Hurricane Floyd.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

When Hurricane Floyd roared up the East Coast, it dumped as much as 2 feet of rain in some places. With devastating floods from the Carolinas to New England, this destructive storm resulted in 56 fatalities and $6 billion in property losses.

That was 1999. Today, forecasters and emergency managers have used the many lessons from Hurricane Floyd and other severe storms to prevent future losses. Specifically, they also have utilized new computer tools and Internet technologies to quickly communicate flood risk to threatened communities. It’s all part of NOAA’s National Weather Service mission.

Forecasting Tools You Can Use

Flooding often follows a land-falling hurricane and is the top storm-related killer. Floods take more lives every year than lightning, tornadoes, or hurricanes. In the time since Floyd ravaged the East Coast, weather forecasters and emergency managers have developed a variety of new tools to better predict and plan for flooding.

National Hydrologic Assessment map.

National Hydrologic Assessment map.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

NOAA’s National Weather Service now offers a new Web-based tool to help emergency managers and local forecasters assess flood risk. This Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service tool shows current water levels and predicted levels for the coming days for more than 4,200 locations throughout the United States.

Another new online tool, currently available for a limited number of locations, is flood inundation mapping. This tool enables Web users to view flood water coverage at different flood stage levels on a map, and overlay other kinds of information useful for assessing potential flood effects. For example, flood inundation maps for 16 river forecast locations in eastern North Carolina are now fully operational.

Inland flooding from Hurricane Floyd.

High resolution (Credit: FEMA)

Due to Hurricane Floyd’s devastating effects, the Coastal and Inland Flood Observation and Warning Project was developed to improve flood warnings for coastal North Carolina. CI-FLOW evaluates and tests new techniques to produce accurate and timely forecasts for inland, coastal and flash floods in the state’s Tar-Pamlico basin. New techniques such as these will be used across the country to improve flood forecasting, flash flood monitoring, water management, land-use decisions, evaluating ecosystem effects, and coastal storm surge forecasts.

Hurricane Preparedness is One Click Away

In addition to these technological advances, NOAA’s National Weather Service provides valuable and life-saving information to help you understand and prepare for future hurricanes.

Turn Around Don't Drown poster.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The NWS’ Morehead City Forecast Office developed a Hurricane Floyd anniversary Web page, which offers useful tips on preparing a family disaster plan and creating a disaster supply kit. Learn how to secure your home and what to do during a hurricane.

The site also offers downloadable Hurricane Floyd lesson plans for elementary school grades 4 and 5. The lesson plans have been offered to schools throughout North Carolina; teachers nationwide are welcome to use them in their classrooms.

This year “When Flooded, Turn Around Don't Drown” signs will be distributed to areas affected by Hurricane Floyd’s record floods. A wealth of flood safety information also is available on the weather service’s Flood Safety Awareness Web portal. And don't forget, national Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 24 - 30. 

2009 Hurricane Awareness Tour

In May, East Coast residents can learn about hurricanes and hurricane preparedness through the 2009 Hurricane Awareness Tour featuring public tours of a hurricane hunter aircraft. Dates and locations are posted on the Hurricane Floyd anniversary Web page. NOAA logo.